The Trust was formed in 1993 when the shareholders of the 80080 Locomotive Company Limited , the company that owned locomotives 80080 and 80098, and Mr Brell Ewart, who owned locomotive No 46203 Princess Margaret Rose, combined their assets into one charitable organisation. Such a move would open up opportunities for further development in the future.
As such The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust (PRCLT) was born, set up with charitable status and with the aim of preservation, restoration, operation and display of locomotives and in particular the Princess Royal Class. The Trustees decided that although the Trust would remain totally committed to the Midland Railway Trust, preference was for a 'stand alone' position where the Trust could be master of it's own destiny.
In 1994, utilising profits from railtours, the trust embarked on an ambitious plan to build its own headquarters in which all the three standard gauge locomotives, the 21 inch gauge collection, and two standard gauge coaches could be housed. Building commenced in late 1994 and the building was completed in 1996. Over half a mile of track and four turnouts were laid by volunteers. Some 5,000 tons of fill was used in forming the embankment that forms the headshunt in the yard.
Inside the shed, a number of original windows and a door rescued from Westhouses Locomotive Shed (18B) were incorporated into the building. With its location being at the west end of Swanwick Junction site of the Midland Railway – Butterley, and its connection with Westhouses, the name West Shed was deemed appropriate. Significantly the building was constructed by the trust entirely from its own financial resources and without recourse to any external funding.
Since 1996 the external precincts of the West Shed have seen regular additions and development. The yard was given a tarmac surface in 1997, a wall with the Armorial devices was added in 1998. In 2001 the 21 inch gauge track was started and this is still on going as time and materials permit. In 2002 an external ash pit was constructed thus allowing the Trust’s locomotives to ash out and be oiled up within the Trust’s own site. The rail lines into the shed were numbered 2 to 6 leaving No 1 for future extensions. A turnout was laid in the arrival road to feed No 1 road.
The new building has been constructed to a very high specification on the principal that quality accommodation will help produce quality engineering. With this asset complete the Trust can now work on through forthcoming winters far more productively in warm and dry conditions. The building was extended in 2006. More details in the 'West Shed Story' page.